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Shoppers sue over food recall


Two customers of Safeway in the U.S. are taking the grocery chain to court because it failed to notify them that items they purchased were being recalled.

At the heart of the case is a claim by the women that they used their Safeway loyalty card to make the purchases of recalled food. Safeway should have used that club card data to track down and alert shoppers who had bought food affected by the recall.

Other retailers do use loyalty card data to alert shoppers, they said.

One of the two women, Dee Hensley-Maclean, 53, who lives in Montana, purchased peanut butter crackers and Nutter Butter sandwich cookies that were part of a nationwide recall at Safeway. She was not alerted by the company.

However, she purchased similar items at a Coscto using that retailer's club card and was subsequently alerted by Costco not to eat those items.

Hensley-Maclean and the other woman in the suit, who lives in California and purchased recalled eggs, are being helped in their lawsuit by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Science in the Public Interest.

"Safeway aggressively uses its club card data to churn out coupons, analyze its customers' shopping habits, and otherwise boost sales. Yet when it knows it has sold products that may be contaminated with E. coli, salmonella or other hazards, it does not use its robust marketing database to prevent illnesses or deaths," Steve Gardner, CSPI's litigation director said in a statement.

The claim against Safeway was filed in California Superior Court. The two women are asking that they and others be refunded for the tainted products they purchased and that Safeway commit to using its loyalty card data to notify consumers in the event of future recalls.

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